Chapter 6: The Power Of A Crisis: Charles Duhigg’s The Power Of Habit Book Chapter Summary.

Charles Duhigg shows us throughout this chapter how leaders will use a crisis to their advantage in order to force an organization to shape up and those members who can’t to, “Ship Out!” How does that happen? Well… Creating a sense of urgency and perhaps even exaggerating it a bit is a good start, according to Mr. Duhigg.

If you look at a multi divisional organization where there are different departments involved like Maintenance, Sales, Shipping and Receiving, (just as an example) chances are good that there is going to be some friction between those departments over whose turf is whose, if not tension between employees in a single department. So in companies that don’t have clearly defined keystone habits for their employees to adopt; it is likely that the company may be able to turn a profit and keep the ball rolling, but at a cost.

This is because Even if the various divisions appear to be fully functional and seemingly working together for the greater good of the organization; unwritten toxic habits will have developed that maintain peace between factions. However, maintaining peace like this is not good for the organization or even its clients.

Because of things like turf wars; someone in Sales (using my example above) might see something wrong in the building that could affect Shipping and Receiving’s ability to perform safer and more efficiently, but won’t. “Why?” They were taught not to say anything that didn’t pertain to their job in Sales. So a habit formed that basically led them to keep their mouth shut, which is something that is totally excepted in the organization’s toxic culture/unwritten rule book.

However, smart leadership of an organization will use a major event like an accidental death (hypothetically speaking) in Shipping and Receiving to begin effecting change in the keystone habits of the group, which allowed such an event to take place. They might even intentionally do things to keep the accidental death on everyone’s minds for an extended period. This way leadership can insure that the reconstruction of boundaries between divisions and new authoritative guidelines are established more easily. This would include making it easy for anyone to report safety issues in departments other than just their own.

This works because things that tend to shake people emotionally (death, financial disruption, having their image damaged publically, etc.) make many far more agreeable to change. Rules can be rewritten without argument and alliances between the most unlikely people can form when driven by seemingly intense circumstances. The pursuit of a common goal (the betterment of the organization) then becomes everyone’s primary objective.

Author: Brian Schnabel

[Email: brian@brianschnabel.com]: Seeking my very own Joan Watson in Elementary 26-year-old form; I’m plugin it all in here via Microsoft Word 2016, Windows 10, JAWS 18.0.2945 and the screen reader accessibility of WordPress 4.8.0.

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